I’m a firm believer in sharing. When we share our stories, we help others who are in the same perimenopause and menopause boat. If you’d like to share your story, please email it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Here is Barbara’s Story:
I live on Long Island, New York, and I am fifty-one. Before I stopped getting my period, I had maybe two, three years of irregular periods and a lot of anxiety and heart palpitations. I went to a heart doctor, got myself in this vicious cycle of tests, because I didn’t know what was wrong. Every time I went to doctors, all they would do was give me prescriptions for Zoloft, Xanax, or any other kind of anxiety medicine, never mentioning hormones or perimenopause.
They said I wasn’t in perimenopause; my hormone levels looked fine. They did do blood work and kept telling me I was in the range. My hormones didn’t show that I was going into menopause at all. But I knew something was wrong.
I kept getting stress tests and EKGs and everything else. My doctors wanted to put me on beta blockers. It was very frustrating. I know there is a time and place for prescription medicine, but I didn’t want to take something just to mask a symptom. I wanted to know the underlying cause. Why did I feel like this?
All my heart tests came out fine. So I’d ask, “Why would you want to give me this drug if nothing’s wrong with my heart?” They never had an answer. Oh, this will make you feel better, stop the palpitations.
I kept researching, and I never went on any medicine. My gut was telling me it was definitely hormones. Can you imagine, my doctors actually told me stay off the internet. “Why do you keep looking on the internet?”
By chance, I found a book called Magnesium Miracle. I started reading and saw magnesium helped with my symptoms, the anxiety, the heart palpitations. When I started taking magnesium, it was a miracle. I was able to sleep. I felt better. I didn’t have palpitations anymore. So I rely on magnesium to this day.
But I still wasn’t feeling right. My periods had stopped. I had hot flashes during the day. I bought a progesterone cream, and I started bleeding again, so that was a whole ordeal with my gynecologist making me get a biopsy, yelling at me that this is not normal.
I told her I was using this cream. She told me to stop using it. No medical professional I went to was into any natural or bioidentical hormones at that time. They are more popular now than back then. So I stopped using the progesterone cream, and I’ve just been suffering ever since.
Recently I found a new gynecologist. When she examined me, she said, “You’re a mess.” She was pretty cold. That was when I found out I had vaginal atrophy.
I had vaginal dryness for a very long time, but I’d never even heard of atrophy before. Nobody talks about anything like this.
Honestly, I don’t know why menopause is so embarrassing for people. It’s just something natural that you go through, but nobody wants to talk about it. I have two teenage daughters and I told them I was going to reach out to Ellen Dolgen, a women’s health advocate who focuses on helping women in perimenopause and menopause. They said, “Ma, are you kidding me? That’s so embarrassing.”
Even my own mom never talked about it. To this day, she still claims she doesn’t know the age she went through menopause. How could you not know the age of such an important thing?
I’ve been married for twenty-three years. My husband is aware of my menopausal journey, but he’s not the type to want to talk about those things either. Even the mention of something like vaginal atrophy, well, he just doesn’t want to hear about it. If I read something about hormones or menopause that relates to me, I tell him things like that, but I don’t know how much he really listens. He tries to put up with me as much as he can, I guess.
I did talk to a few friends about the vaginal atrophy. They were surprised, same as me. They’d never heard of it. It’s unbelievable that it’s just not spoken of. It’s like those two words got left out of the dictionary. Even though Erectile Dysfunction is all over the news and in every commercial.
My sister is 43, and we know she’s heading towards menopause, because my mother, my aunt, and my mother’s sister were all young when they went into menopause. I’m trying to help her, telling her I went through the same thing. But it’s a big joke in the family now because all you’ll hear us say is, are you dizzy? I’m dizzy.
I have not yet found a good menopause specialist, but I know I need one. I’ve waited too long, which is partially my fault because I am nervous about going on any kind of hormone replacement. The gynecologist who told me that I was a mess told me I’m not going to feel better unless I do something about my hormones. I’m not going to lose the weight I’ve been gaining. I walk, I exercise, I watch what I eat, and I cannot lose a pound. It’s frustrating. She said “You will never lose a pound unless you go on bioidentical hormones and balance your hormones.”
I know she’s right, but I’m so scared to do it.
I think of menopause as a natural progression of life. So to me, you’re fooling around with Mother Nature by using hormones. But because we’re living longer now, there are so many more years of life after menopause than there used to be, is that why so many people are replacing their hormones? I don’t know. I’m uncomfortable with it. And without it.
It’s a tough decision for me. I still have a whole drawer full of prescriptions I’ve never filled. Even at my last checkup, again my doctor said, “I think you should really consider going on Zoloft. It’ll help you.”
But help me do what?
My doctor wanted me to go on Estrace for vaginal atrophy, but I didn’t do anything. I use lubrication and it’s not that bad yet. I’m more affected in an emotional way: I’m fat, I’m this, I’m that, you know. I just don’t feel good.
I recently read that Dr. Christiane Northrup said if you’re already an anxious person, menopause will escalate everything. I really think that is what happened to me. It’s such a relief when you read stories of other people who have gone through the same thing, because no one will talk about it. Then you don’t feel so alone. You don’t feel like you’re crazy or just imagining things. It really does make a huge difference.
I know that I have to do something because things are getting worse. I’m trying to exercise more, and all of a sudden this hurts, that hurts. I’ve developed joint pain. It’s just so discouraging and frustrating.
I read Suzanne Somers, Rosie O’Donnell, everybody… they all say bioidentical hormones are a miracle. Every day I think, I have to make the call and go on those hormones. I have to call.
So I’ve decided I will. I have to listen to my body. I have to help myself.
Click here to download my free eBook, MENOPAUSE MONDAYS: The Girlfriend’s Guide to Surviving and Thriving During Perimenopause and Menopause.
Suffering in silence is OUT! Reaching out is IN!